Post #3 — Resistance to Change

Student Struggling

Access to technology is not the only challenge that exists in Education today.  Resistance to change amoung my students is a barrier that also needs to be overcome.  Quite often they just want me to dish out what they need to know so then they can dish it right back to me and get their good marks.  They often do not want the challenge of problem solving and creative thinking that usually goes hand in hand with inquiry based and problem-based learning.  Keith Rispin refers to the same phenomena in his blog, http://www.keithrispin.com/editorial/is-our-education-system-mired-in-its-mythology/ (Sept 6, 2012): “They [the students] are as stuck in the teacher centered model as the rest of us.”

Unfortunately, I think students see school as something to endure and get over with as easily as possible.  Then, the real learning can happen after; when they have completed this institution that society says you must go through.  Students know how to learn on their own.  I have watched my own children Google sometimes very difficult strategies for completing their video games.  I have seen students on their own time endlessly using technology to learn about the best vehicle or how the universe works.  Notice, that none of what I have mentioned here is in traditional school curriculum.

Clearly students have these skills to learn independently using technology.  Why do they seem to be so resistant to transferring this to school? For some answers to this, check out the following link: http://trice25.edublogs.org/2011/01/10/what-to-do-when-students-resist-inquiry/

But, I guess it does make sense.  Problem solving and critical thinking are actually pretty hard.  When I consider my role to one of the challenger and the facilitator, it is my job to arrange to make students feel slightly uncomfortable (not too much, though, or they will just give up!).  In this discomfort they will have to grow and that, my friends, is what education should be all about.

My vision of education for the future includes students who see school as a growth opportunity; a place where they solve problems that are relevant to them and that are current; A place where they are allowed to use technology in as many forms as they know how. School is a collaborative, interesting and sometime fun place to be.  School is more than just boring hoops to be jumped to get to a better position in life.

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8 responses to “Post #3 — Resistance to Change”

  1. keithrispin says :

    Great post…

    Although this is a topic is being flogged to death lately, I don’t think we are really getting to the greater issue at hand. It is easy and convenient to look at the school system and say “your not doing your job because my kids isn’t inspired to learn!” and for the most part, the education world have accepted responsibility. At one time I was one of those teachers who believed that I was responsible for a lack of inspired learning in my class but then I had kids of my own…

    As a parent, I began to see a systemic societal problem which has plagued North American school systems for at least two decades and there doesn’t seem to be any end is site.

    To put is simply, kids don’t have to learn, grow or develop. We live in a world where kids can remain kids forever.

    As a society:

    We don’t expect or let our children to grow up…

    We do not find it acceptable for a child to fail…

    We say “YES!” to everything and “NO!” to nothing…

    We can’t endure to see our children cry in frustration or disappointment…

    and if anything goes sideways, we look for an adult to blame or a fault in the system because we don’t treat our children as capable, sentient or responsible beings. Children have become nothing projects which we try to engineer from the womb.

    If we won’t let our children become functional parts of society, why bother inquiring, collaborating, problem solving or thinking critically. All the adults are doing it for us.

    Cheers,
    Krispin

  2. keithrispin says :

    (((Edited Version)))

    Great post…

    Although this is a topic is being flogged to death lately, I don’t think we are really getting to the greater issue at hand. It is easy and convenient to look at the school system and say “your not doing your job because my kid isn’t inspired to learn!” and for the most part, the education world has accepted responsibility. At one time I was one of those teachers who believed that I was the only reason for uninspired learners in my class but then I had kids of my own…

    As a parent, I began to see a systemic societal problem which has plagued North American school systems for at least two decades and there doesn’t seem to be any end in site.

    To put it simply, kids don’t have to learn, grow or develop. We live in a world where kids can remain kids forever.

    As a society:

    We don’t expect or let our children to grow up…

    We do not find it acceptable for a child to fail…

    We say “YES!” to everything and “NO!” to nothing…

    We can’t endure to see our children cry in frustration or disappointment…

    and if anything goes sideways, we look for an adult to blame or a fault in the system because we don’t treat our children as capable, sentient or responsible beings. Children have become nothing more than projects which we try to engineer from the womb.

    If we won’t let our children become functional parts of society, why would they bother inquiring, collaborating, problem solving or thinking critically. All the adults are doing it for us.

    Cheers,
    Krispin

    • K-Allin says :

      Thanks Keith! I do agree that adults are doing too much for their children and then in turn the expectation is that teachers do the same. I have taken a lot of responsibility onto myself for student engagement, so thank for pointing out that it is not completely my fault! I sort of have this thought that if my classroom is active, authentic and interesting enough, the students will all be engaged. This often puts me under a lot of stress to re-develop lessons or try to find the perfect activity for each and every topic I teach. I’m finding I just don’t have the time or the energy and my family life is beginning to suffer because of all this effort to engage students. My goal now is to let go of some of the responsibility and realize that it is not completely my fault. I do love technology and inquiry-based learning, though! But, little changes at a time is more manageable.

      There was an interesting article in a recent issue of Psychology Today (Life Lessons). It was called Benign Neglect. I love that title! The article was saying that when ever possible parents should let their children handle things on their own even if they end up feeling hurt and disappointed. My understanding of what they were saying is that helicopter parents are actually doing harm to their children. Even though it is hard to see our children uncomfortable and upset, it is very important to allow them to figure out how to handle it themselves. In fact, we need to trust our kids enough to know that they will get through it successfully. When did parents start thinking that kids are so helpless that they can’t comfort themselves?

      • keithrispin says :

        Thanks for getting back to me.

        Somewhere along the line we have been sold a bill of goods, that we as parents and teachers have to engineer our children’s lives. That means every waking hour has been planned and executed with military efficiency.

        We are kind of coming to the realization that this has been a miserable failure but now we are trying to compensate by actively planning more authentic learning experiences for our children.

        Planned real life experiences… a contradiction in itself?

        Kids don’t need adults planning their lives they need to live their lives without constant meddling from adults. Inorder for this to be meaningful it also means making kids take responsibility for what they choose or do not choose to do but all in good time.

        This can be as basic as your child coming to you and saying “dad i’m bored!” My kids have stopped saying this as I come back with “Are you bored or are you boring?” Kids have choices, it s only a modern construct that adults have become keeper of those choices and distributor of something to do and how to do it.

        Here is a post you might like from my other blog

        http://www.parentingoldschool.com/paperback-parenting/fifty-dangerous-things/

  3. Rhonda Z says :

    I have to agree…I’m not a teacher but I am a manager who has the job of hiring my staff. I have definately seen a changing attitude over the years as the people I hire get younger and younger. I would love to see an educational system (and a society for that matter) where kids are allowed to fail and then take a lesson from that failure. If children are encouraged to fail and seek alternate paths to success I believe we would have an emerging workforce that shows some sort of pride in what they do…with a good work ethic because they already understand that they need to work to achieve results because everything isn’t just handed to them.

    School should mimic real life where we don’t all win all the time and we don’t all get a trophy just for participating. Kids need to be challenged and made uncomfortable when learning…how else will they learn to think for themselves and to find solutions for what the real world throws at them? What I’m seeing in the younger generation is a real sense of entitlement rather than a willingness to learn and achieve the bonuses that come with hard work and creative thinking to overcome obstacles on the path to success.

    • K-Allin says :

      Thank you so much, Rhonda! It is always great to hear the opinion of people outside of school. Your insight is very valuable. In high school the students do fail classes and lots of times they are quite shocked by it; because it has never happened to them before. I’m not saying we should hold back small children but I think there should be a time in the middle years where we finally tell them that what their doing isn’t good enough. We can tell them that we will help them as much as we can, but they need to do it again to satisfaction.

      It is good to know that people in business would support more “real life” consequences at school. I often wonder how things have changed so much in the past decades. When did parents and schools switch to over-protecting their children and students?

  4. Elissa says :

    As I was reading your blog I thought immediately of the ‘Millenials’. Your comment that “Quite often they just want me to dish out what they need to know so then they can dish it right back to me and get their good marks. They often do not want the challenge of problem solving and creative thinking that usually goes hand in hand with inquiry based and problem-based learning” sounds a lot like the Millenial student to me.

    When I think about the characteristics of the ‘Millenial’ student one of things that always comes to mind is the idea that the students wants very clear learning and outcomes. They want to know exactly what is needed from them to complete an assignment and what they need to get what mark. They want very clear guidelines from their teachers. Another characteristic is that ‘Millenial’ students do not develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills to the level that other students have had to. This echoes your comment that students can just Google what they need to know rather than having to think through a problem.

    (For further reading and to get a background on Millenial students I suggest checking out http://www.google.co.ke/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CEIQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.msmasfaa.org%2Fdocs%2Fconference%2F2005%2FSessions%2FMillennial_Student_Mississippi.ppt&ei=6qqBUMiCDdOFhQeRuYDICA&usg=AFQjCNGdhOjPlxJJUisvuFVbtFefB5CZGg which is a good powerpoint and http://teachingcommons.depaul.edu/Classroom_Activities/teachingmcs.html for a good overview).

    If you are not familiar with ‘Millenial’ students they are the children of baby boomers and are often characterized by very involved parents (helicopter) parents, who are made to feel that they are special, they also exist in the digital world and have the expectation that everything will be done instantly. The topic of ‘Millenial” students had been a very popular one for about the past 6 years in higher education as it has forced higher education institutions to address and educate students in a new way.

    One of the challenges of ‘Millenial’ students in higher education is that they have been brought through the system of standardized testing and have learned that they need to achieve good grades by getting the correct answer. However, when students get to higher education it is not just about the correct answer it is about the critical thinking that takes place on your way to finding that answer. I think we still have a lot to learn about ‘Millenial’ students and the fact that we are running to catch up to them does not make it any easier.

    Elissa

    • K-Allin says :

      Thanks Elissa,

      I had not heard the term “Millenial students” before, but i know who you are talking about! Thank you so much for your reply.

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